My Dad never took me to work. Not on Take Your Daughter/Son/Whomever to Work Day (which is today.) And not on any other day either. And by doing so, he probably saved my life.
My father worked on the railroad, through many live-long days. He was a pipefitter, and that meant that he fixed trains. He worked for the Central Railroad of New Jersey —later consolidated under Amtrak—for 42 years. And I imagine that a visit to the shop where he worked, filled with engines and freight cars that would limp in sadly and chug out proudly like an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine sprung to life, would have been quite captivating for a young boy. Which is why he kept me away.
Of Tiny, Cockeye Louie, and My Other Uncle Joe
My Dad liked his job and he was good at it. His hands were amazing, so thick with callouses that he could casually pick up a pot off the stove without a potholder. Around the dinner table, we talked about the guys he worked with—Tiny (who was anything but) Cockeye Louie (who wouldn’t answer to anything but) and a guy I called Uncle Joe because he was at my house more often than my real Uncle Joe in Chicago. Every year for Christmas, I’d get a jar full of the loose change that he’d find under the seats of the passenger cars. My father believed there was pride and dignity in a hard day’s work. And when you did it for your family, it was a way of saying I love you. And somehow he instilled those things in me. Read more......